Journey to Heathrow

So excited today to be starting off on our big road trip of the Pacific North West. Planned for a long time through months when even the idea of travelling further than “down the road” seemed an unlikely dream. But here we are! Bags packed, hotels (nearly 40) booked, flights to Seattle tomorrow……

We closed the house up this morning, and the taxi came for us at 230. We decided to experiment on our journey this time. Normally we would just book a taxi to Heathrow to get us there in time for the flight. However, our flight tomorrow is at 940am and that would mean leaving Hawkinge at about 430am in order to get to the airport in plenty of time… So, we decided to try taking the train today and then staying overnight at the airport. I managed to get a very good rate from the Thistle at terminal 5. We’ve stayed here before and while it’s not the poshest hotel at Terminal 5, it does have the advantage of being on the T5 Pod route. This is a rather fabulous facility that lets you board a little egg shaped driverless car that runs around the T5 carparks, the terminal and…. the Thistle Hotel.

So, we got the 3pm train to St Pancras which cost us £19.80 for 2 tickets and was a faultless service as usual. Then we made our way down to the Piccadilly line for the trip to T5. Getting the cases down to the platform was easy enough – better than I expected. But at that point, the journey became utterly horrendous to the point where I would never do it this way again. Frankly, the TFL train was like boarding a cabin for some sort of bikram yoga. It was utterly boiling in there. There did seem to be some sort of a/c vents in the car roof but they were there as some sort of cruel joke rather than providing any sort of cool air at all. It was crowded too. Luckily we got seats all the way – there were 25 stops, so took about 55 mins I suppose. An exercise in endurance…… at one point I got a strange sensation and experienced something that took me back 35 years to when commuting was part of my daily life….. yep…. I looked down and to the right and there was a strange head on my shoulder….. a fellow passenger had succumbed to the miasma in the carriage and fallen asleep. On me. It is at such moments that covid uneasiness raises it’s head along with bitter regret and resolution never ever to travel to Heathrow by train again. Take my advice, shell out for the taxi even if it means getting up at the crack of sparrows. Why TFL cannot seem to operate an a/c system on all the trains on its routes I cannot imagine in this day and age. It is an absolute embarrassment. I realise there are issues in deploying it in the stations but there is simply no excuse at all for the gruelling experience of the trains.

We lurched out sweatily at Terminal 5 and luxuriated in its coolness. It was also pretty quiet….. British Airways offer an early bag drop if your flight is before about 11am the next day. We had to queue up a bit to avail ourselves of this service but not for too long. We bade farewell to our bags, wondering if we’d ever see them again, and praying we would….. we tried to change our seats but failed. Apparently the flight is totally and utterly full, which I suspected when we were unable to change them online this morning. At least Bob has got an aisle seat which he likes.

We found the entry to the Pod system which is in the Business car park accessed from Arrivals. The pods are immediately available and we just got in, set our destination as the Thistle and it took us there in about 5 minutes. What a brilliant thing!

We are all checked in, nice cool room. Comfy bed. Meeting Daisy for dinner in a while and then back to T5 in the morning – YES – the POD again – for our flight to Seattle and the start of our Very Big Adventure.